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Alex upbeat on fitness

05 Jun 2006 - 12:38:47

Left winger Alex is confident of recovering from an ankle problem in time to play in Japan's World Cup opener against Australia on June 12.

The Brazilian-born star suffered the injury during Japan's drab 1-0 friendly victory against Malta on Sunday, but does not believe it is serious.

"I might have sprained my left ankle lightly," said the 28-year-old.

"I've got the foot iced up at the moment but I should be okay for the Australia game and will see what the situation is tomorrow."

Japan coach Zico is desperate for Alex to make a swift recovery as right winger Akira Kaji is likely to miss the clash with the Socceroos.

Kaji injured an ankle when he was on the wrong end of a tough tackle from Bastian Schweinsteiger during last week's 2-2 draw against Germany.

He has made some progress in his recovery, but admitted: " I am not sure about the opening match."

Zico left first-choice strikers Naohiro Takahara and Atsushi Yanagisawa out of the side to face Malta because of worries about their fitness but expects both to line-up against Australia.

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